VILLAGERS fighting plans to install what they have called ‘one of the largest pig farms in the country’ have been granted the support of a major political figurehead.
After actor Dominic West, famed for his role in US crime drama The Wire, pledged his support to protestors in 2011, a second high-profile supporter has emerged.
Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, has joined protestors in condemning Midland Pig Producers’ (MPP) application to erect the farm in Foston.
Ms Bennett, joined by her party’s European Parliament candidate, Katarina Boetgge, met with the Foston Community Forum to discuss their campaign.
She heard residents’ health concerns – including alleged exposure to drug-resistant infections caused by pigs being given pre-emptive anti-biotics – before expressing her own reservations.
She said: ““Everything I have heard here today reinforces my, and the Green Party’s, commitment to ending factory farming in the UK.
“It is not only inhumane, but carries significant and unjustifiable costs for local residents and the wider public, all the while undermining the work of responsible independent farmers and a future of robust rural economies.
“I urge Derbyshire County Council in the strongest possible terms to reject this planning submission, and the Environment Agency to withhold an environmental permit, as a matter of urgency”.
However, MPP has hit back at Ms Bennett’s criticisms and dismissed health concerns associated with their development as ‘scaremongering’.
An MPP spokesman said: “There is no UK evidence that citing a pig unit near to residential areas poses any risk at all.
“In fact, humans are more likely to pass bugs to pigs not the other way around. Disease is controlled by good standards of hygiene, welfare and management systems and has nothing to do with the size of the farm.
“Allegations about antibiotic resistance and disease have previously been corrected and clarified by the National Pig Association – the national representative body.
“However, to allay any concerns regarding health issues, we have repeatedly offered to talk to the professional medical advisors of those raising the subject to enable us to clarify the situation and provide reassurance through verified facts.
“To date, we have had no response.
“This farm will not even be the biggest pig farm in the UK. There are larger ones already up and running.”
The campaign group has contributed to Derbyshire County Council’s delaying a final decision on MPP’s application for more than three years.
Thirty-thousand people have signed a petition against this and similar developments online at www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/object-to-the-introduction-of-huge-factory-farms-into-the-uk.
Dominic West, who played loveable rogue cop Jimmy McNulty in The Wire, which critics widely regard as being amongst the best TV shows of all time, grew up near Foston and his uncle was a pig farmer.
He joined the protest group in 2011 as he thought large-scale farms would put farmers like his uncle out of business.